The benefits of being listed in a web directory

In theory, there are two main benefits of being listed in a web directory:

  • Increased link-popularity due to a one-way link from a highly-respected resource.
  • Increased traffic due to being listed in a directory that is searched by many people every day.

In reality though, these benefits are directly related to how popular the directory is itself, and how much money you have paid for your listing. Of course, if the link is for free, there is nothing to worry about.

But if you are paying for submission, you need to know some very important facts.

Link Popularity

As far as link-popularity is concerned, you need to factor in several variables:

  • The Page Rank of the directory
  • The Page Rank of the category page on which you are listed
  • Where you are listed on the page
  • The number of competing websites on that page
  • If there are other websites in your niche that can offer you the same conditions for the same price or less (very, very important).

The last point is very important from the cost/benefit angle. A web directory, while being a hub itself, is NOT a niche website or an authority site. Even within categories and sub-categories, the lack of valuable content means that web directories are, at the end of the day, link pages and nothing more.

Where directories win out is the fact that they require one-time fees. In contrast, authority sites (or most websites with a Page Rank greater than 5 or 6) tend to use text links as a source fo revenue, and thus charge monthly fees. A directory listing then becomes a much better option (but only for link popularity).

More Traffic

Directory listings are also used as traffic building opportunities. How this works is that many directories are searchable for their visitors, so that users can look for information. In theory this is great – you can get lifetime traffic for just a nominal payment, but you should not expect a sudden deluge of traffic from just one directory listing. Here’s why:

  • Most directories, apart from the top twenty or so, are usually used for link-building and not pure searching. This means that while people may use GoGuides or Yahoo for regular searches, you should expect that the smaller directories are mainly for link-popularity, and plan your investment as such.
  • Many directories offer listings based on an alphabetical ordering, or a first-come, first-serve ordering. In both cases, your website has quite a big chance of being lost out in the noise.
  • Directory-search algorithms differ greatly. Some directories, like JoeAnt, base their search on keyword relevancy (which makes it more of an exercise of stuffing your directory listing with keywords rather than making a good website), while others take a more “editorial” approach by factoring in editor ratings. And still, many directories display sponsored listings first, reinforcing the adage that even on the Internet, it’s your advertising budget that talks, and not necessarily the quality of your website.

After you factor in the above points, you realize that there are only a handful of web directories where it is a definite benefit to “pay” to be listed. And even then, you cannot just rely on just being listed – sponsor listings get much more exposure. But before we discuss these dozen or so web directories, I’d like to tell you how you can make sure your website is accepted.